Recently I returned to Boston where I served as a rabbi for ten years. Although it was mostly pleasant reunions with my congregants, there were more than a few people who had something to say about my involvement in the cannabis industry.
As one older lady shared with me, “You are a rabbi. You represent Judaism and morality. Marijuana is not moral and cannabis is not kosher. People my age don’t approve of it or of what you are doing.”
She is right about the morality of marijuana. It is not moral. However, she is not right in calling it immoral. Cannabis is amoral. It is a plant-- plants, like most things, have no morality. Its morality is determined by what we do with it.
She is, however, wrong about cannabis not being kosher. If by kosher she means being proper by Jewish dietary standards - Its not a pig. Its not a cheeseburger. Its a plant, and plants - as we learn in the Book of Genesis, are kosher - period! (As an aside, medical cannabis edibles are now certified kosher by the Orthodox Union - OU).
If, however, what she means by “not kosher” is that it is not sanctioned by Judaism, not part of Jewish tradition, not allowed due to Jewish values, or not holy because it is sinful, well guess what -- she’s zero for two. Cannabis is mentioned in Jewish text - in the Torah (Exodus 30:23) to be exact. It is part of Jewish tradition - utilized by revered rabbis such as Maimonidies. It was part of the ancient Temple sacrificial system and ceremonies. And, as we’ll explore in coming blogs, it can even be deemed a Mitzvah (commandment) elevating it to the place of holiness when used to sanctify life.
Lastly, she may speak for many, but she certainly doesn’t speak for everyone her age. I have met so many seniors who utilize cannabis for both medical and recreational reasons. She may not approve. She may find it offensive. She may consider cannabis to be the Devil’s Weed.
Nonetheless, cannabis is kosher. Marijuana can be moral. Hash can be holy. And many zaydies (grandpas) and quite a few bubbes (grandmas) definitely partake!
It’s time to address the morality, meaning and values surrounding this plant - a plant with unparalleled possibilities to heal. Medical healing. Social healing. Racial healing, and Environmental healing.
No, I’m not a cannabis consumer. I am, however, now a passionate advocate. The cannabis industry is now my congregation. Cannabis customers, owners, employees and advocates my congregants. For a myriad of reasons, this plant has become my pulpit.
It’s time to move beyond our limited thinking, beliefs and relationship to cannabis. All plants are “kosher” and this one has so much to offer us and to teach. So, look out cause this cannabis clergyman, this marijuana minister, this man of the hemp cloth, this pastor of pot is ready to preach.
Stay tuned if you are interested in kosher cannabis, moral marijuana or the healing power of this miraculous plant.